Mind Of Man: How To Deal With Bitterness

I have recently been accused of being “bitter.” This accusation has been at the heart of various criticisms of recent blog posts I have written. Those blog posts include a recent rant about first dates, and the hilariously absurd insecurities that ritual inspires. I also wrote an obnoxious review of the new “Harry Potter” movie, which I haven’t seen, and won’t see, because I know man-witch will use pig Latin to defeat Dark Casper. It is not like Harry Potter is some obscure cultural underdog. If I offended you by roasting your favorite fictional childhood hero/billion dollar empire, then, you know, don’t be such a dainty teacake.

I also won’t apologize for mocking first dates and, to be fair, my own anxieties. I also won’t apologize for making fun of tapas. If I was sitting on the Iron Throne of New York City Dating, I would decree that all first dates occur at my new restaurant “Tongs,” where all portions are family-sized and the only utensils are tongs. Now, that is a first date where two people will really find out about one another. Tapas would then be banned.

You will get whatever you get in life. Usually, it’s a mix of opportunity, luck, cruel randomness and the consequences of your actions, not your expectations.

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You can call me whatever you want, of course. That is why the Internet is awesome: it’s just one gigantic, super-futuristic AOL chat room. You can call me cranky, old (I’m the only 36-year-old I know who can nap on command) and you can call me an a**hole. Hey, I am an a**hole, especially to those of you who have poor reading comprehension skills. But I am not bitter. Bitterness is ingratitude. I am a very, very thankful man. For instance, I am thankful that anyone reads my babbling ever.

Bitter people are angry. Angry that their life expectations have not been met. You know how to make a million dollars? Sell people a product that you swear will help them find love or success or an escape from a reality where things don’t work out the way you want them to work out. Sell them that in life, you can expect certain things to come to you. Reinforce the fantasy that there is any certainty. That you can demand the universe to serve your purpose. But here’s the unsexy truth: you have no right to demand anything. But love has the right to demand everything of you.

You will get whatever you get in life. Usually, it’s a mix of opportunity, luck, cruel randomness and the consequences of your actions, not your expectations.

Women’s magazines and talk shows and self-help books written by life coaches will tell you that, with their help or the help of expensive snake oil, you can game the system and control your lot. The only thing you can control in life is your reaction to the utter lack of control you have in life. Don’t listen to those quacks. Life coaches are just actors who don’t want to study to be therapists. Life is winging it. Improvising. I’m not suggesting being passive. Make bold plans. But shipwrecks are never planned. There are no sharks on a desert island. Nothing tastes better than a coconut, especially when there’s nothing else to eat. I call that pirate wisdom.

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No one really gets what they want. Even those who get what they want don’t get what they want. If everyone got what they wanted, then there would be no stories. Because the only stories that are worth telling are the stories where you fall off your map and tumble into that dark territory known as real life. It is scary and wolves howl and paths lead to sinister gingerbread houses, magical rabbit holes and impossibly high towers full of secrets. The story of your life is not the story of what your heart got, but what your heart didn’t get and how it kept on beating. We are all daredevil hobos with bindles full of dreams and beans following train tracks to who knows where.

The past 12 months of my life have been … well … like most of my adulthood. I cry, I laugh, I grit my teeth and keep on marching in the general direction of where I think I want to go, well aware that there are booby-traps and detours and random pie-eating contests ahead. Over the past year, I have sobered up, lost my dear sister, and had my heart broken again and again and again. I have been out of work and hustled. I got work and am still hustling. I have seen my best friend sweat beads of pure joy as he nervously recited vows to his beautiful bride. I am a prideful man, to my detriment, and I don’t always ask for help. But my friends know this, forgive me my pride, and help me anyway. I’m thankful for that.

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Recently, I have been afraid and exhausted and wondered if I will ever be in love again. I have laughed at that ridiculous thought, because it doesn’t matter if I’ll ever find love again. Love has tackled me before, many times, and I am thankful for first kisses in the middle of snowy roads and promises that were whispered at midnight, even if they were never kept. What will happen next for me? I have no idea, but I’ll probably blog about it. Life is a minefield: you take a step and there’s an explosion full of fire and smoke. You take another step and there’s another explosion, but this time candy rains down.

I am not bitter. Cranky? Yes. An a**hole? Occasionally. I’m having too much fun blogging and cracking hidden safes full of mysterious treasure and hating on tapas to be bitter.

John writes stuff. Follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook.